Many industries rely on scale models to develop new products and designs. Architects, industrial designers, artists, clothing designers, and car manufacturers all use scale models. Each model is built to a scale that relates the actual object to the model through a ratio. Can you determine a formula for constructing a scale model? You can use your formula to make a model of your house, school, neighborhood, or town (CUBE, 2002). You can make scale models of the Wright Brothers aircraft…
Minerals are sometimes precious, like diamonds. But most minerals are very common, like sodium, which is found in salt. How are minerals found and identified? How are our mineral resources distributed? Visit the USGS Mineral Resource Program to find mineral resources in your state. How are satellite images used to identify potential mineral sources? You can also find out how minerals are identified using spectroscopy. How are potentially harmful minerals, like mercury, dealt with? Visit the…
Divide a part of your garden into two equal plots, with each plot receiving equal amounts of sun. Cover one plot with two inches of organic mulch, such as compost or ground bark. Leave the other plot uncovered. Use the same amount of water for each plot for two or three weeks. At the beginning of the experiment, and at one-week intervals, dig down and check the soil in each plot for moisture content. Which plot holds water better? Which plot shows better plant growth? (McCausland, 2006)
The same principles of geology that we use to investigate the Earth can also be applied to other planets. Visit the Astrogeology Research Program at the USGS to find out how information about the geology of other planets can be gathered (USGS, 2006). Can you make a map or model of another planet? What minerals are found on other planets? Which planets have similar composition to the earth? What kind of geological forces occur on other planets? Do other planets have earthquakes, landslides…
What is geomagnetism, and how does it affect the earth? Visit the USGS Geomagnetism program for more information about this invisible force (USGS, 2006). How is the earth's magnetic field patterned? Are the magnetic poles located at the exact North and South Pole? How can the fields be mapped on the Earth's surface? What is declination? Use the mapping tools to study changes in declination patterns over time. (USGS, 2006)
In the United States, lighting for homes accounts for about 14% of all residential electricity usage (EIA, 2014). That's billions of dollars worth of electricity per year. The U.S. has passed legislation to phase out older, more inefficient incandescent light bulbs, and they are being replaced with newer, more-efficient bulb types like compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). How much energy (measured in kilowatt-hours [kWh]) and how much money could be saved by…
Germination is the process by which a seed emerges from the seed coat. Many different variables can effect the process of germination. Try to sprout seeds from different species of plant to see if different species vary in germination time. Are weeds faster germinators than vegetables? Try measuring seeds and then germinating them to see if big seeds sprout at a different rate than small seeds. Try sprouting seeds in different environments to test the effect of different environmental…
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Research the famous collapse of the Tacoma Narrows suspension bridge.
What lessons were learned about the potentially damaging effects of wind on bridges? What structures stabilize a bridge against wind forces? Build models and use a wind tunnel to test your hypothesis.
There are many types of construction materials used for wood-frame houses. Compare the different uses for and strengths of different building materials, e.g.: particle board,
plywood, pine, oriented strand board (OSB), and drywall (gypsum board, SheetRock). The Science Buddies Materials Science Resource will be helpful for learning about different ways to measure material strength. You should be sure to use the same cross-sectional area of each material in order to make fair comparisons.…
If you live in a humid environment, then you know that summer is not only hot, it is downright muggy. You can test the effect of humidity on temperature by measuring the temperature and humidity in your bathroom while running the shower. You can also use historical weather data to compare average seasonal temperatures in humid (e.g., Florida) and dry (e.g., Arizona) regions. How does humidity relate to temperature? Pressure? Why do humid environments tend to be coastal or tropical? How does…
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